Cashews as we know them are obtained from the tropical shrub related to mango, pistachio and poison ivy. Cashews originated from Brazil, where the plant then made its way to India and East Africa during the 16th Century by Portuguese sailors. Although we call them a nut, they’re technically a seed.
Today, cashews are commercially grown in warm, humid climates in countries such as Vietnam, India, Nigeria, Indonesia and Brazil. Surprisingly, cashews are harvested by hand. Unlike most fruit where the seeds grow within the fruit, the cashew seed hangs from the bottom of a cashew ‘apple’, which is essentially a swollen stem.
The hard shell of the cashew contains a toxic resin that can blister human skin. Therefore, cashews are always sold deshelled and all cashews are heated to some degree. Roasted cashews are heated twice, and raw cashews are not necessarily raw but have been heat treated once to ensure the resin and shell are effectively removed.
Cashews contain an abundance of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids and well as a concentrated amount of protein and fibre. 75% of the fat in cashews is in the form of oleic acid, the type of fat found in olive oil. This type of fat has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. People who suffer from high glucose levels, can tend to also experience elevations in cholesterol levels. A study conducted in 2017 indicated that consuming 28-64g of cashews per day assisted in reducing triglyceride levels. (1)
Due to the nutritional profile of cashews, they assist with stabilising sugar levels as they prevent the insulin spike that would usually occur from consuming a carbohydrate rich meal. This is due to their low glycaemic index.
Nuts are a great snack that can be integrated into the diets of those with glucose irregularities.
- Mah E et all. Cashew consumption reduced total and LDL cholesterol: A randomised, Crossover, Controlled-feeding Trial. Am J. Clin.Nutr. 2017; 105: 1070-78